Chin Villagers Forced as Porters by Army Soldiers
18 November 2011: Despite reforms and political changes voiced by the new government of Burma, villagers in Chin State are still facing forced labour, extortion and rights violations committed by soldiers on patrol.
Burma Army soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion No. 274 based in Darkhai village forcibly ordered Chin locals from 10 villages of six village tracts in Tedim and Tonzang townships on 20-22 October, according to the Chin World Media.
One of the Lalta villagers in Tedim Township was quoted by the Chin World Media as saying each village was ordered to hire six horses to carry military materials and a total of 60 horses were used.
“Each horse cost 6,000 kyats and the villagers had to pay for all the hiring fees, without any compensation from the authorities or army soldiers,” added the Chin local.
However, it was later claimed that locals from Thuitang village in Tonzang Township received 5,00 kyats for each horse from the soldiers.
In some villages, children and women including school teachers were also involved as forced porters in carrying and accompanying the horses for at least six miles between Zampi and Darkhai villages in Tonzang Township.
Early this month, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) reported that Captain Zarni Htun and four soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion No. 274 forced Chin locals from Bukphir in Tedim Township to carry an electric generator and military rucksacks up to Darkhai village in Tonzang Township.
There are more than 50 military camps with 12 battalions of Burma Army soldiers stationed and on patrol across Chin State after 1988 when only two battalions were being deployed.
Van Biak Thang